Black Heart Bart made a triumphant return to racing with a hard earned victory over Fuchsia Bandana in the Listed Birthday Stakes (1200m) at Belmont on Saturday.

Racing first up since his eastern states campaign in May and June, Black Heart Bart, ridden by Glenn Smith, charged home from fourth position and scored by a long head.

Black Heart Bart’s stable mate, Dawn Approach, was a neck adrift in third place, just ahead of warm favourite, Wink And A Nod. Hazzabeel, who raced wide throughout, ran fifth.

Smith sent an ominous warning to rivals when he said there was considerable improvement in Black Heart Bart.

“He was a bit fresh so that will take the edge off him,” he said.

“He is only about 85 per cent so will improve out of sight.

“He is only three quarters there and dealt with them easy.”

Trainer Vaughn Sigley took Black Heart Bart to South Australia and Queensland after the son of Blackfriars collected five feature races last campaign.

The five-year-old ran fourth in Adelaide’s The Goodwood (1200m) and was last in a field of 15 when tacking the Stradbroke (1350m) in Brisbane.

Sigley indicated Black Heart Bart would tackle a Group One double in the upcoming Railway Stakes (1600m) and Kingston Town Classic (1800m).

Promising three-year-old Kia Ora Koutou passed another test when he won the Crown Perth Opening Day October 17 Handicap (2200m).

Racing against older horses and at his first attempt beyond a mile, the Adam Durrant-trained gelding remains undefeated after four starts.

“He definitely ticked another box that I was looking for and can stay,” said Durrant.

“It’s onwards and upwards and there are a few options with him.

“He has go so much potential this guy.

“He is still building and not at his top.

“I have so much faith in this horse and I know when the pressure goes on he will be able to handle it.

“I’m looking forward to the next month where we can go to the Geelong Classic and Victoria Derby.”

Julio Santarelli